Alex Hodschayan, the editor of the St. Louis Blues FanSided site Bleedin’ Blue was kind enough to answer a few questions about the state of the Blues. I wanted to know how their fans feel about the division and their team this season. Here are his thoughts on how the Detroit Red Wings and St, Louis Blues will match-up this season, with a little commentary from me of course.
The Blues lost Jason Arnott in the offseason, who will replace his production on the ice?
Alex: The 2013 St. Louis Blues are going to look a lot like the team they were last season. The loss of Jason Arnottmay seem like a big loss on paper as he contributed 17 goals and 17 assists, but that production was sparked by the players around him. Last season David Perron, Andy McDonald, and Alex Steen all had time where they were out of the line-up recovering from concussions. If that core can stay healthy they will more than compensate for the loss of Arnott. Also, the addition of rookie Vladimir Tarasenko on the right side should boost the Blues offensive potential giving them the shot in the arm they really need on offense.
Me: In a shortened season injures are bound to happen and a team full of injury prone players doesn’t sound good. Tarasenko could be a shinning light for the Blues but is he ready for the grind?
Who will win the series between the Red Wings and Blues this season?
Alex: While the Red Wings have dominated the league for the last 20 years, I think their time is slowly coming to an end. The St. Louis Blues have been a young team, but have finally matured into a dominant team. I think there will be some really great battles, including opening night on January 19th, but in the end I think the Blues will get the best of the Wings this season.
Me: Blues fans always forgetting that the Red Wings won the series last season. January 19th will be an exciting night.
Which Red Wing player are you most afraid of playing against this season?
Alex: I don’t think there is ever a season that Pavel Datsyuk suits up that you want to play against him. His offensive talent and just overall skill make him a player that is respected and feared around the league. Blues fans know all too well of his goal scoring abilities and, while they would never admit it, they recognize that he is a top talent in the league.
Me: I never tire of teams respecting and fearing Datsyuk.
How will the Blues replace Carlo Colaiacovo on defence and how do you expect him to play with the Red Wings?
Alex: Colaiacovo is a great defenseman when he is healthy, but he was never was healthy with the St. Louis Blues. Coco, as he was referred to in St. Louis, was partners with Alex Pietrangelo on the blue line, but the pair did not always have the best chemistry. A lot of the time you would notice Pietrangelo picking up the slack for Colaiacovo. I would like to say that he would finally find his stride as I was a fan of his game for the most part, but with the condensed schedule I don’t see the Red Wings getting much use out of him. There were reports that he would be unable to play in camp due to injury, but he did eventually make it. With Colaiacovo already nursing a possible injury, I expect him to be out for most of the season.
Me: Cola will have little time to develop chemistry with Ian White, but both are dangerous as 2nd/3rd pairing defencemen.
Alex: The simple answer is no. Brian Elliott showed that he can be a world class goaltender last season, but once the Blues needed him to play every night after Halak’s injury in the playoffs his game fell apart. Halak is the number one for St. Louis even if the coaching staff, front office, and fans fail to recognize it. Elliott’s play last season earned him a big contract extension causing the Blues to part ways with youngster Ben Bishop who now is calling Ottawa home. I would expect the pair of netminders to have a great season, but look for Elliott to just fill the holes when Halak fails to live up to his expectations. The pressure is on both of these guys, but don’t expect another Jennings trophy to come their way.
Me: Halak and Elliott were stout, but both had losing records against the Wings; Halak 0-1 and Elliott 2-3. Elliott wasn’t much help in shootouts either.
How do you feel the Blues will do this season and where will they end up in the standings? (Central/Western)
Alex: I think that the St. Louis Blues are poised to be at the top of the Central this season and near the top of the Western Conference. With the condensed season every team is going to have injuries, but few teams have the depth of the St. Louis Blues. While a lot of the names on their team are not household names in the NHL, they should be and could be in the near future. Take Vladimir Sobotka and Matt D’Agostini. Both of these guys play with great skill, speed, and intensity, but don’t really fit into the line-up every night. They are both filler types for the Blues who step up in case of an injury, but otherwise are mixed in and out of the line-up for pure depth. On any other team in the Central, these guys would be suiting up every night and logging a decent amount of minutes. Depth is going to be the key this season and that is how the Blues will stay ahead of the pack.
Me: Was last season a fluke or a preview of what is to come? We will find out this season. The Wings are still The Wings, though, and until Datsyuk/Zetterberg retire, I will always believe we can take the Central. By D’Agostini and Sobotka being able to start for any other team in the Central, I think you mean just Columbus.
Alex: Not at all. Zetterberg has his name on some cup that players talk about all the time. He doesn’t need another trophy on his list. Tell you what, if the Wings want to go back in time and let the right team win in the 1995-96 Semifinals, we would be happy to give Zetterberg the Calder. You guys couldn’t get past Colorado that year when the Blues had everything in place to crush them. That was our year and one bad shot ended it. So no, no remorse about a Calder. Just wait, at the end of this season, we will have another Calder via Tarasenko. Just remember that name because for the next 10 years or so, you will be crying every time the Wings line up against the Blues.
Me: Zetterberg needs more trophies to catch up with Datsyuk though. And by bad goal, I think you mean an amazing slap shot which no one had any chance at stopping.
A big thank you to Alex Hodschayan and Bleedin’ Blye for taking the time to answer these questions. If you would like to learn more about our division rivals the St. Louis Blues, head on over to Bleedin’Blue.